Comme Ci Comme Ca – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did you ask someone for their opinion on your work, and they told you, ‘comme ci, comme ça?’ This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression ‘comme ci, comme ça’ translates from French to ‘so-so’ or ‘like this, like that.’ If you use ‘comme ci, comme ça,’ it means you don’t have an opinion, or it doesn’t strike you. ‘Comme ci, comme ça’ means neither bad nor good. It refers to taking a neutral position on something.

If you use ‘comme ci, comme ça,’ it means you don’t have a point of view on the subject matter worth noting. You can think of ‘comme ci, comme ça’ as between ‘boring’ or ‘lame’ and ‘amazing’ or outstanding.’

Example Usage

“I don’t know what to think of it. It’s comme ci, comme ça’ to me, and I don’t have an opinion. Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board with that idea.”

“I asked the boss what he thought of my idea, and he said ‘comme ci, comme ça.’ I was heartbroken as I spent the last year working on it.”

“I think the painting is comme ci, comme ça. It doesn’t really speak to me, and I think I should rather keep looking around for something else.”

“The vacation was comme ci, comme ça. We didn’t get to see anything spectacular, and it was expensive. We won’t be going back there anytime soon.”

“The meal was comme ci, comme ça. As a French restaurant, I would have expected better from the chef, not just an average meal.”

“The book was comme ci, comme ça. I don’t really get anything from it. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t very interesting either.”

“While employment data was good, it’s lower than estimates. So, the Federal Reserve will see that as comme ci, comme ça, and use it as ammo for lifting rates.”

“I don’t know how I feel about him. I’m comme ci, comme ça. I think I need to look for someone else.”

Origin

The expression ‘comme ci, comme ça’ originates from French. The phrase first appeared in English conversations and texts in 1945 in its original French format. Language experts are unsure of the first use of the term in writing or who coined the expression.

However, some experts believe the phrase entered use in English towards the end of WWII. French and English soldiers would bring French culture back to England, including words and phrases. Some experts believe it crossed the pond to the United States after being popularized in England.

Phrases Similar to Comme Ci Comme Ca

  • So-so.
  • Like this, like that.

Phrases Opposite to Comme Ci Comme Ca

  • Conviction.
  • I like it.
  • I don’t like it.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Comme ci, comme ça.

Ways People May Say Comme Ci Comme Ca Incorrectly

The phrase ‘comme ci, comme ça’ sometimes has the spelling ‘comme ci, comme ca.’ However, this use of the expression without the cedilla mark is incorrect. ‘Façade’ is an example of a word incorporating the use of a cedilla, which was dropped after the phrase became popularized in English. Perhaps, with time, the same will apply to ‘comme ci, comme ça.’

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Comme Ci Comme Ca

In social and professional conversations, you can use the phrase ‘comme ci, comme ça’ to replace ‘so-so’ or ‘like this, like that.’ For instance, you could ask your boss their thoughts about a new product, and they may reply with ‘comme ci, comme ça’ to show you they don’t have an opinion.

Or you could use ‘comme ci, comme ça’ at home when your partner asks you what you thought of the movie you just watched. Typically, people will spell ‘comme ci, comme ça using a comma to separate the two phrases. In most cases, using a foreign language in English requires italics. However, this expression doesn’t need it.

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